One Size Does Not Fit All: Why individual coaching prevents burned-out esport players

Lately I’ve read posts about esport athletes become burned-out fairly soon in their careers. It feels these messages become, unfortunately, more frequent. It’s an important topic, to discuss burnout among esport players. This not only affects the players themselves, but it also affects the organisations and their investors behind the organisations fueling esports as a whole.

Over the years I’ve seen organisations take more responsibility concerning burned-out players. Hiring sport coaches for exercise, psychologists for reflection on behaviour and actions, and even technology that improves sleep patterns of esport athletes by using data. All this is very positive and helping esport athletes become less burned-out. But still with these new approaches you hear quite some stories about players who just burn-out early. Why is this (still) a common theme in esports? Is it because of the excessive amount of hours that players put into a game? Is it because the lack of physical exercise? Is it a lack of experience on how to manage esport athletes? As a player development coach, I feel the responsibility to reduce the risk of overlooking potential causes of burn-out by esports players. And precisely this has made me think further.

I think all of the all the above elements causes burned-out players, but where is the real gate watcher that prevents stress and exhaustion in the first place? It all seems that such methods fights back burn-outs, but does not prevent stress and burn-out the way we want it to be prevented. And prevention is better than cure, right?

At the moment esports is on the rise and more and more big investors jump into esports. That is great and very important for the growth of esports. But when the amount of burned-out players stays high, there can be less to no consistency in an organisations performance in the long run. And when there is no consistency in performance, then the expectations doesn’t get met, and eventually investors pull out and organisations could collapse because of this. Now this is not short term I’m talking about, but more medium, to long term. I’m concerned about the long term stability of esports and want to help build something that could last for centuries, without a bad reputation that esports is unhealthy because of the extreme high numbers of burned-out esport athletes.

Is there a solution to this burnout problem in esports? I think so, yes. In my opinion there is one solution that is overlooked. Psychologists and doctors can tell everything what burn-out is and what could cause it. At the moment we are looking at the effects and possible causes of burnout. Great that we know all this, but why do some people get burn-out faster than others and why do different people recover from burnout than others? The one main thing what is being overlooked is the individual, the esport athlete themselves. Not as a human being that is average, but as an individual with their own brain, nerve system, neurotransmitters and so much more. Every human this is different. And therefore every ‘cure’ and approach should be.

When it is clear that every human is different, why do we most of the time try something on every individual that is more like “one size fits many” of even worse “one size fits all”. When you have size 40 in shoes, you don’t try to put them onto someone who has size 42. Then why do so many people try to fit people into something that they don’t fit into?

There are players who are really structured and always precise, plan everything ahead and be super serious in every training and game. When you place these type of personalities into an evenly structured organisation with trainers and coaches, everything is great. But when you put such players into an environment where all the other players have tendencies to improvise, live day by day and thrive on brotherhood and also fun while practicing, this could cause huge problems and stress. You can physical train all you want, and reflect all you want, or play less or more hours. A perfect storm for a burnout when this structured player tries to adapt to something it doesn’t really fit into. Now this is a very black and white example, but this is what is happening on a daily basis in esport teams.

To really help people to prevent burn out, their coaches and trainers have to know what triggers stress for that specific esport athlete. This is doable by taking a combined emotional, physical and cognitive tests. Why these three together? The human brain operates the emotional, physical and cognitive in one single system. This will give trainers and coaches and even the athletes themselves insight of their triggers that causes stress. Instead of fighting back burnout among esport athletes, you can now go to the roots of the triggers and prevent burnout in the first place.

With the insights of each esport athlete, you will find all the equipment and tools you will need as a coach to build a well oiled esport team that can run longer, harder, better, faster than any other team. I believe an individual approach fits all esports players and since my start in the esports, I already have seen the results of this new coaching method.

I hope that with this article I have inspired coaches and managers to take a closer look at the individual as a player and more pure as a person for the well being of the athletes and the longevity on the team and organisation as a whole. I hope they all see the win-win situation in this. Even in a team oriented game, the individual is what matters all the time.

Got any questions on how and where to start? I will gladly explain it to you. Just send me a message.

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